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10 “Must-Haves” When Buying a Horse

  1. Refined Criteria: Before you go trying horses, spend serious time considering your budget, the type of personality and ride that is a good fit for you, must haves, nice to haves, issues you can live with, and ones you can’t.
  2. A Trusted Agent: Having a professional assist you in the purchase of a horse is the only way to go unless you’re highly experienced yourself.
  3. A Contract With Your Agent: Document how much commission will be paid and that the process will be handled with transparency and full disclosure.
  4. Due Diligence: Get to know the horse you’re buying. Request answers directly from the horse’s current owner, in writing. What’s he like on the ground and while ridden? Does he require maintenance? Special shoeing? Has he ever had colic? A serious injury? Etc.
  5. Records: Are there papers to substantiate his breeding? A sports record to substantiate his accomplishments in the show ring? Vet records that may be useful in the future, such as radiographs? A current coggins? Etc.
  6. Pre-purchase Exam: It’s essential. Choosing the right vet and extent of the exam depend on the situation. Be sure to discuss any potential conflict of interest the vet may have. An online vet record is preferable to easily share and maintain for future reference.
  7. Delegation of Responsibilities: Who is responsible for the horse’s insurance, transport, ownership transfers? Written agreements ensure costs are accounted for and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
  8. Risk Allocation: It doesn’t help anyone to pretend we live in a perfect world. When something goes wrong, who has to absorb the loss? What would be covered by insurance? It’s better to know ahead of time. Written agreements help avoid costly disputes later on.
  9. Safe, Reliable Transport: Only trust a reputable company that is licensed, bonded, and insured.
  10. Realistic Expectations: Horses are unpredictable. They change in response to their environment, training, and routine care. They take work to keep healthy and happy, especially to perform as a sporthorse. Horse activities are inherently risky. Only purchase a horse if you’re willing to accept these realities.

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